Consuming Splendor: Society and Culture in Seventeenth-Century Englandby Linda Levy Peck
Pub. Date: 09/30/2005
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
A fascinating study of the ways in which the consumption of luxury goods transformed social practices, gender roles, royal policies, and the economy in seventeenth-century England. Linda Levy Peck charts the development of new ways of shopping; new aspirations and identities shaped by print, continental travel, and trade to Asia, Africa, the East and West Indies; new… See more details below
A fascinating study of the ways in which the consumption of luxury goods transformed social practices, gender roles, royal policies, and the economy in seventeenth-century England. Linda Levy Peck charts the development of new ways of shopping; new aspirations and identities shaped by print, continental travel, and trade to Asia, Africa, the East and West Indies; new building, furnishing, and collecting; and the new relationship of technology, luxury and science. As contemporaries eagerly appropriated and copied foreign material culture, the expansion of luxury consumption continued across the usual divide of the Civil War and the Interregnum and helped to propel England from the margins to the center of European growth and innovation. Her findings show for the first time the seventeenth-century origins of consumer society and she offers the reader a novel framework for the history of seventeenth-century England.
- Cambridge University Press
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Table of Contents1. 'I must have a pair of Damasked spurs': shopping in seventeenth-century London; 2. 'We may as well be silk-masters as sheep-masters': transferring technology in seventeenth-century England; 3. 'What do you lack? What isn't you buy?': creating new wants; 4. 'Anything that is strange': from rarities to luxury goods; 5. 'Examine but my humors in buildings, gardening, and private expenses': cultural exchange and the new built environment; 6. 'The pictures I desire to have … must be exquisitely done and by the best masters': luxury and war: 1640–60; 7. 'Rome's artists in this nature can do no more': a Bernini in Chelsea; 8. 'The largest, best built, and richest city in the world': The Royal Society, luxury manufactures, and aristocratic identity; 9. New wants, new wares: luxury consumption, cultural change, and economic transformation.
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If you think conspicuous consumption is a modern trend, or that globalization and outsourcing are recent phenomena, historian Linda Levy Peck has news for you. In this study, she explains that the English folk of four centuries ago were ever eager to keep up with the Joneses by blowing some of their disposable income on silks, paintings, chocolate and other pricey items that weren't exactly necessities. Indeed, their appetite for the finer things helped pave the way for today's mass materialism and international trade. A taste for fancy goods isn't so new, nor is debate over what shopping means to the structure of society. Levy Peck's professorial prose is dense, but her theme is eye-opening. We recommend this overview to anyone who'd like to understand what motivates consumers now and has motivated them for centuries.